Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

I have wanted to do one last post related to a project before the end of the year. I managed to prime some more H&R 80s British infantry that came in the last day of final exams, and I just started rebuilding the remote MANPADS turret to make it more to scale. Beyond that, I haven't touched anything hobby-wise for at least two weeks.

So, I will just throw this out, a la Linda Richman (Mike Myers) from the old SNL sketches called Coffee Talk:
I've noticed that a lot of recently published armor warfare rules are somewhat narrowly time specific, particularly concerning the 1980s and the whole "Team Yankee" genre. I have bought a number of these and have found that unless I take the time to try to reverse engineer the stats for weapons not listed in the rules, they are of no use to me. Rules like Fist Full of TOWs and Cold War Commander appeal to me more because they include everything from the end of WWII to more-or-less today. Are the better rules those that are narrowly focused as opposed to those that try to cover a larger time span? That seemed to be a big debate back when I was much more into ancient gaming. Anyone have thoughts on this?

I hope you have a happy New Years and that 2017 will be a good one!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Shapeways Purchases

The kids and I were supposed to leave today (Friday) to our annual Christmas travels to Chicago. Thanks to the incoming storm across the Midwest, I postponed the trip to Sunday. Its supposed to be horribly cold, but at least sunny and hopefully the roads will be clear. Although I'd like to be there sooner than later, I immediately felt the stress of driving 11+ hours in nasty weather with my kids fall off my shoulders once I made my decision.

Last week, a flood of figures came in. I probably shouldn't have, but I ordered a bunch of stuff from GHQ, C-in-C, Heroics & Ros, and Shapeways. I am still waiting on the C-in-C stuff, but everything else arrived in a span of four days. Most of the H&R minis were more of their 80s British infantry to fill some gaps from my previous order. I had some accumulated credit from Shapeways that I decided to cash in. At Shapeways, you place your order and hope it goes through. They seem to charge your credit card before they know if they can make the item or not. Not sure if that is ethical, but if they can't print something, they give you credit. I've been burned on a couple of things. I can't really blame the designers. There have been several times where the designer said an item had printed OK in the past, but for some reason, that same item could now not print. Anyway, here are a couple of things that I ordered from them.

First, are some VW vans from Masters of Military:

They have a big range of civilian vehicles. IMHO, this is a range that is sorely neglected by pretty much all microarmor companies. Unlike a lot of other Shapeways designers, they print a lot of their stuff in Ultra Frosted Detail. This material is translucent and very smooth, unless the more common stuff that is very rough. The only minus to MOM is that they are pretty darn expensive. I also order some delivery vans, but I didn't take a picture of them.

Next up is the Douglas A2D Skyshark by New Aragon Mechanical Works:

I think this is the first time I've ordered from this designer. He only does stuff in Strong, White & Flexible, which is very grainy. You can't tell from the crappy picture, but the tail end of the wings are very rough looking. I took a emery board and very gently sanded it down a little. I'm not sure why some of these designers still use this material other than because it's cheap. It has a belly drop tank that I will cut off to make room for a rare earth magnet. You get two planes with different payloads.  Here is what the real thing looked like, pudgy but cool:

U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.253.3377, Public Domain,
There were only 12 of these planes built. It had twin counter-rotating propellers powered by a turboprop engine. It was meant to be flown off of escort carriers. The Douglas Skyraider quickly replaced it....but not in my world! Fictional nations justify prototypes and odd ducks. Not sure who the lucky nation is that will get these.

Next, a Hawker Hart light bomber also from New Aragon Mechanical Works:

Sorry for the crappy picture, but I wasn't sure how to photograph it. Again, more frosty goodness. The Hawker Hart was part of a series of Hawker all-metal biplanes that came out in the late 20s. They were used mostly in far-flung reaches of the British Empire, or sold to minor nations.

So, why the old-timer aircraft? Well, I've been toying with the idea to revitalize an old (and I mean very old) solo campaign that I ran back in the late 80s. It was a semi-fictional battle between a not-Soviet Union and a not-Great Britain over an Iran-like nation set in the mid to late 1930s. There were lots of battles between BT-7's and Crusader I's. With a bunch of interwar tanks and planes coming out of Shapeways, I thought I'd add some minor nations to the mix. I'd keep it more of a desert theme, making terrain building less of an issue (I've been pretty burned out on terrain building lately). I have not invested a lot yet. It depends on how far I get on my Gambusia campaign.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Remote-controlled Air Defence Artillery Part 1

Over at the Facebook 6mm group, it's been conversion mania. One fellow in particular has been swapping weapons and turrets with the bodies of other vehicles left and right!  Very cool stuff.

I am THIS close (holds fingertips about 2mm apart) to having a game, but I just need some time to do it. Lately, I've had little energy to do much in the evening that would take longer than maybe a half an hour. So, all of the conversion madness possessed me to make an air defence missile on small-ish vehicle. GHQ sells the Avenger ADA, which is mounted on a hummer, but that thing looks way too big and probably would be too costly for my various nations of Gambusia. So, why not give a try at one of these:

Not interested in the vehicle itself, but rather the remote-controlled missile launcher on top:

This one consists of four French Mistral anti-aircraft missiles and a 50 cal machine gun.

There are so many permutations of weapons configurations out there, that I decided I wasn't going to duplicate this one, but rather a genetic one whose missiles could represent any MANPADS missile.

As my template, I looked at GHQ's seated MANPADS launcher for their 3rd World Regular Heavy Weapons set (TW 13). I've seen this set up on some vehicles, but that looks way out of my league to scratch build. I'm not really sure why these have seats. A remote controlled turret seems easier to make (ha-ha!). For the vehicle to mount the turret on, I have a bunch of South African infantry transport truck-like things made by Scotia-Grendel. Like the Mamba, these things are classified APCs, but to me don't really look like APC to me. This guy is smaller than the Mamba. I can't remember the name of it.

MANPADS for the lazy man in front, SA APC in back
Measuring off of the MANPADS missile pictured above, I made my missiles out of 0.8mm styrene dowels. I then glued two of each to a thin styrene sheet that separated the two:

I then glued to each missile rack a base plate that was going to be glued onto the cradle:

Two missile racks ready to be attached to the cradle.
The two racks were glued to a side plate and then joined to a 1.2mm dowel that would be the pivot bar portion of the cradle:

It was very tricky business trying to get both racks aligned. I wasn't 100% successful, but not too far off. I then mounted this into a block of styrene that I had filed out a cavity, This acted as the base of the cradle:

I glued another smaller block of styrene onto the front of cradle that was to represent the optronic system. I decided to leave off the machine gun.

Here is what it looks like from the side:

Not perfect by any means, but it looks passable on the table top. However, I AM NOT GOING TO USE IT. IT'S WAY TOO BIG!

After staring at it for a long time, and comparing it to some other models that had launchers on them, it looked portionally way too large. After consulting Wikipedia, I found that these missiles are far longer than the Mistrals, or pretty much any other MANPADS missile. So, this is why this post is Part 1. I'm going to give it another attempt and reduce the proportions. If nothing else, the goal is to get the missile racks to be no wider than the width of the vehicle's roof. I will probably use the one I made for anti-air defence on a patrol boat.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Game-related Software Links

Andrew Bruce of 10mm Wargaming has kindly posted a very nice list of links to software related to wargaming. Ranges from campaign managers to map makers. Worth checking out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Been Very Busy

I've been pretty busy with school and family. I have been able to do some work, mainly on the third nation on the mini-continent of Gambusia, the Federal Republic of Gambusia. The FRG has been a somewhat minor player in my campaign so far (such as it is), but with the new line of 80s British infantry from Heroics & Ros, I decided to make their army more complete. I couldn't figure out for the longest time what nationality of infantry I wanted to represent them. The FRG is mostly armed with British AFVs, with some French stuff thrown in. Being that they are a relatively poor nation, pretty all modern infantry on the market seemed too modern, and WWII infantry looked too dated, even at microscale. I think the 80s Brits fit the bill. I am now painting them up along with finishing their APCs and tanks.

Additionally, H&R has put out some 80s Soviet infantry, including paratroopers. My Northern Chalupistan army is pretty much complete, but they have the SPG-9 among their various support weapons. I bought a few of those and will use them instead of my homemade ones, which look huge! Fear not, the homemade ones will fall into the hands of my generic rebel army (also a work in progress) and be stuck on pickup trucks as well as be on tripods. I put too much work on those monsters for them not to be used.

I will have a post on these various things hopefully soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wings At War: Thud Ridge Play Test and Evaluation

I managed to squeeze in another quick air combat game to test out another set of rules. This time it's Thud Ridge, part of the Wings at War series produced by Tumbling Dice.

Thud Ridge takes place during the Vietnam War. In addition to the rule book, you also get a bunch of Tumbling Dice 1/600 scale jets. A while back, I purchased their air rules covering the Falklands War. I hadn't read that set in a while, but they are identical in mechanics with some particulars to each game setting.

I did say in my previous AAR post that these games were going to pit the MIG 21 against the F5/F5A. When I first read through the rules, I didn't notice that F5 stats were included, so I instead decided to have a match between two opposing MIG 21 forces. Hey, it could happen! Two minor nations both equipped with MIG 21s, or the General tries to depose the Sultan of Northern Chalupistan resulting in a civil war. My friend Karl (a.k.a The General) threatened to do just that several times, but I've managed to hold him off.

Thud ridge has some MIG 21 models, so I painted them up, sort of:

One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to make roundels for 1/600 planes
I couldn't decide how I wanted to paint them, so I made a wash of Future Floor Wax with some India ink and slathered it on. It gave the planes a natural metal look and got into the cracks and panel lines. The photo doesn't do them justice. I was pleased with the result. They faced off against my MIGs that are painted in the official camouflage colors of Northern Chalupistan. For this game, there will be few pictures done in ComicLife. While entertaining, they take too long to make, and the learning curve seems a bit high.

The Battle
The game required aircraft to be on square bases of 30mm a side. All I had were 25mm steel bases, but I figured close enough. This time, I used cylindrical rare-earth magnets to attach the aircraft and to indicate altitude differences. These would prove to be something of a major inconvenience later in the game.

The opposing sides started off at different altitudes. A roll of the die determined that the silver MIGs were an altitude of 4 whereas the camouflage MIGs were at an altitude of 3. The die behind each plane represents its current power level. Different maneuvers cost different amounts of power, so the more power you have, the more you can do things. The die color also indicates which plane is which.

Turn 1
The rules have the Americans always go first, so again, I randomly chose the camo MIGs to go first. Not much happens on the first turn. Both camo MIGs move straight. The silver MIGs break to slow their speed. Both plan to dive the next turn. If they dived under full power, they run the risk of breaking up and crashing.

Turn 2
The camo MIG decide to climb. And climb they did, using up a good chunk of power to do so:

Camo MIGs climbing to meet their enemy. Big drop in power: from 5 to 2.

Seeing how the camo MIGs climbed to meet them, the Green MIG of the silver side flies straight at the black MIG of the camo side. Unfortunately, he stops just short of cannon range, and can't launch his IR missiles because he must be behind his target:

Yellow MIG does go ahead and dives thinking he can get behind white MIG:

Yellow MIG-21 just after his dive. One altitude level lower and back to full power.
With these rules, you don't get to move further on just a dive, but you do pick up power.

Turn 3
The camo MIGs really needed to get their power back up and you get more when you dive as oppose to using a Power action. Both executed a dive with the black MIG diving underneath the green MIG and then making a slight turn after the dive:

Now this is the start of my magnetic stand issues. The planes were getting close enough to each other to where they were pulling together! And these are pretty strong rare-earth magnets that make it even more of a pain.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Even More Stone Walls

I seem to be obsessed with making walls. This is the latest of my wall making. I built a form out of thin cardstock. The form consisted of a strip of the cardstock of the height I wanted the wall to be glued onto another strip of cardstock that acted as a base. I then squished a ribbon of polymer clay onto one side, used a stamping tool that I made also out of polymer clay to make rock impressions, then baked it. I then did the other side the same way. The result is wall #2 in the picture below. I still need to give it a wash, which will make the impressions of stone stand out more.

1) made directly from model railroad ballast, 2) made from polymer clay, 3) made from mold of RR ballast
I showed off wall 1 in a previous post. Not to rehash the pro's and con's of it, but frankly it looks too much like the home of a caddisfly larva:

Maybe I should have caddisfly larvae make my walls? They seem to know what they are doing.

The cast I made using railroad ballast really looked nice ( Wall 3) and is what I was going after, but the two sides of the wall didn't fit well. I think I might try making more of the wall 2 method. It is less tedious than making wall 1, and I don't use up bottles of superglue gel, which have become pricey.  The cardstock form has the advantage of keeping the height of the wall a little more consistent and doesn't melt in the oven.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Target Locked-On! Play Test and Rules Review

I have sort of came out of my funk. Part of crawling my way back to the top was to give myself permission/space to do something fun for me. A lot time ago, I had planned to play a series of short microarmor games using the same units but using different rules. This would be a way of playtesting various rules. I decided to do the same with modern jet combat rules. I think I have about 16 sets of rules including both hard copy and on pdf. I don't think I can play test all of them, but I'll give it my best shot. I've already played AirWar:C21 a few times, so I will put that one on the bottom of the playtest list.

First off is Target Locked-On! by Rory Crabb.

He has put out several rules including ones for both modern and pre-dreadnought naval. You can find them on Wargames Vault, but the supplements are free on his website.

For all of these test games, I will be using my two favorite protagonists, the MIG-21 and the F-5A/F-5E. They duked it out the first air combat game I played with my friend Karl and I've come to liked them. I played around with ComicLife app for the pictures. The captions within the pictures gave the narrative, whereas the text below each picture is the commentary on the picture.

The Battle
The battle took place on a 2' x 4' foam game mat:

The two sides were at opposite ends of the game mat. In hindsight, I probably could have used only a 2' x 2' playing area.

The colored die behind each plane serves to indicate which plane corresponds with its data sheet and to indicate the current altitude. The altitude range from one to six. The die in front indicates who goes first, second, etc. This is determined by the skill level of each pilot. I made all pilots the same skill level.

I rolled for altitudes. The F-5 group rolled low. This cost them a lot of fuel to gain altitude.

Turn 1

The F-5's, especially the black one, wasted a lot of fuel early in the game trying to reach the MIG-21's altitude. This would force them to really have to think about maneuvers later in the game as all maneuvers except dives use up a lot of fuel. On the other hand, the MIGs just cruised along until they were close enough to dive in and attack the F-5s.

Turn 2
Again, probably could have made the game board smaller. Oh well. A way to remedy that might be to increase the movement increments.

Your maneuver is a freebie, after that, you have to roll versus skill level to execute a maneuver. Planes have a set number of maneuvers. For example, the MIG-21 can execute three per turn; the F-5 can execute four. However, every time you try another maneuver, not only do you have to roll for success versus pilot skill, you subtract 1 from your roll. 

Radar locks are not required to launch missiles, but they improve the chance to hit. Unfortunately, there were a lot of radar lock failures.

I called it a night at the end of turn 2 and resumed the next evening. There was a lot of finger crossing that my son wouldn't get in and disrupt things.

Turn 3

Having four successful maneuvers paid off for the black F-5, or so he hoped. He pretty much left himself open to the white MIG-21 to swing around and attack him, and so he did...

What seemed to come up in the game was that most of the time the planes were too close to use their missiles. Missiles have a minimum range, and each time planes ended up too close to their opponent to use them. So, they resorted to their guns, which missed all the time.

Turn 4

By turn four, it seemed that there wasn't going to be a resolution. The F-5s were running out of fuel. The MIG-21 should have fired his missile at the yellow F-5, but missed the chance.

I thought I'd be fancy and try a split-s. The black F-5 had just enough fuel to pull it off. He did, and it have him some speed to escape.

The consequence of failing a maneuver. The white MIG-21 could have had a chance at firing a missile at the black F-5, but he failed a second turn and was out of the zone. 

I suppose that the yellow F-5 could have tried to attack the white MIG-21, but I gave a quick decision die roll and the yellow pilot decided instead to just leave off the board. He didn't have a whole lot of fuel left either.

Although the two MIG-21s had plenty of fuel, their speed had been greatly reduced. The green MIG tried to gain some speed to catch up to the fleeing black F5, but the pilot figured he wouldn't have gotten within missile range before the F5 left the table. This was because he had really lowered his speed early on but never sped up. Even with a dive, which adds to your speed, wasn't enough to catch up.

Critique of the Rules
OK, now for the critique of them. I have to preface this by saying that first, I only have played a few air combat games such as AirWar: C21, Panzer 8's air combat rules, and AH's Richtofen's War to compare with. I do not claim to be an expert on air warfare games. Second, it could be that I missed something when reading the rules so my criticisms could be invalid. If that is the case, please let me know.

Sequence of Play
Target Locked-On! states there are three phases to each turn:

1. Reaction
2. Activation
3. Morale

Reaction is just deciding when each plane gets to do something. Morale is whether or not a plane remains in play based on things like damage, etc. Activation is when all the action happens: movement, maneuvering, firing weapons and all that good stuff. The problem is that the rules don't say when to do what. Can you shoot first then move/maneuver? Or is it the other way around? Or does everyone move first, then shoot? Based on the order of the reading of the rules, I assumed that each plane moved and maneuvered first, then fired at an opponent. In some cases actions are rather vague.  Attempting a radar lock occurs after you fire guns and before you launch missiles,based on where they were in the rules. I made the decision to attempt a radar lock before a plane moved/maneuvered. That way the pilot can plan his moves better. Another example is that an opposing player can execute an evasive maneuver when it's the target of a missile attack. Does this mean the plane gets to move before it's supposed to? What if the plane already moved? A clarification of what happens when during the activation phase would really help.

I really liked the mechanics of movement and maneuvering themselves, especially the fuel loss and that the pilots have to roll to see if a maneuver succeeds. It made me really think long term, especially for the F-5 jets who wasted a lot of fuel trying to get to the same level as their opponents. It also gave a tactical advantage to the MIG-21s who were at a higher altitude. Having a one to six altitude range made book keeping very simple: just use a D6 to indicate current altitude.

Movement Increments
The movement is in centimeters. It seemed like that was a little too small of an increment. On the other hand, inches may be too large. A good compromise could be 2 cm increments. The maneuver templates seem about that size anyway.

Missiles all have a minimum and a maximum range. The problem for the game that I played was that the planes ended up not being able to fire missiles due to the minimum range constraint. The maximum missile ranges for almost all missiles are the same as a gun range.  Missiles do double the damage that guns do, but I am not sure what the advantage missiles have beyond that. I think that making missile ranges longer or gun ranges shorter might might improve the usefulness of missiles. I'd make the minimum missile ranges a little more minimum.

A bigger issue I had was that it seemed awfully hard to either hit or do any damage. Both times, jets firing their guns missed their targets and they were not lousy die rolls; i.e., rolled a one. For fun I rolled a bunch of times on the F-5 firing on the MIG-21. It took four tries before I rolled a hit, but then the hit didn't damage the MIG even with the 4+ roll to do damage.

The last thing I have to say regarding weapons is the type of missile guidance. The missile chart shows the type of guidance each missile has, but it doesn't seem to make a difference in combat, or at least I didn't see it in the rules. In AirWar: C2, the type of guidance does make a difference. It's not a big deal, but why put it into the rules if they are not to be used.

I think Target Locked-On! is a good game. It's worth the money and is becoming more and more supported as the author puts out new aircraft stats. I think it took me about three hours to complete over two nights. Once I got used to how the rules worked, it moved pretty fast. If the author puts out a second edition, my main suggestion is to better clarify the order things take place during the activation phase. It also makes for a pretty good solo game. I didn't use morale, but the pilot data can help make decisions during a solo game.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quick Pine Trees

In case you haven't figured it out, I like to scratch build things. I try my best not to buy pre-made stuff. OK, I haven't gotten to the point where I make my own flocking, but don't think I haven't thought about it! Even when I know that there will a lot less aggravation and work just to buy something, I still go do the path of most resistance.

Recently, however, I succumbed to  "cheating." I was at Michael's craft store, which is starting to put up all of their Christmas craft items. As I passed down an aisle, there was a display of tiny Christmas trees:

The size looked like it would fit 1/300, so I thought why not and bought two packages.

Last night, I forced myself to work on them (more on the "force" part later). This is what they look like straight out of the package:

There were in various states of squishiness, and many had long strands of branches sticking out in random places. Additionally, there were the bases that were cut wooden dowels. Fortunately, the trees were not glued in and could be easily removed. I popped off the bases and mounted them on a penny using epoxy putty:

Once the putty dried, I trimmed the odd branches. They actually don't look that bad as is, but I went ahead and painted the branches a pine green using craft paint. I then painted and flocked the base:

I decided not to flock the branches. I figured at that size, it would obscure them.

I won't be using them for my Gambusia campaign, but I have some ideas for some WW2 micro armor games where they could come in handy.

WARNING! If you are in a good mood and don't really want to hear about someone else's crap, read no further. 

So, why did I have to force myself to do engage in this little project? The past September, I've been in a major funk, low spot, dare I say depression. A big part of it is, is that I feel I have absolutely no control over my life both at home and at work. I don't want to go into the home life details, but I will with my work.  I used to be able to call my work a career, now it's just a paycheck. I promised myself a long time ago that I would not end up like my father, career-wise, but now it's feeling like I have. Yes, I am fully aware that I should be happy that I am employed, but I am starting to wonder why I wasted so many years in school (two bachelor's degrees, and master's, and a Ph.D.). It has even bled over to my hobby. Wargaming and miniatures have been a big part of my life since the 1970s. It got me through high school and has been my place to go for at least a few hours when things were tough. At the end of August, I sat in my chair at my workbench and really wondered what is the point of this? It seems like I will never get this campaign off the ground. BTW, I am feeling the same way about my research. Between that, and just being very tired at the end of the day all of the time, I just have had no desire to do anything. Last night was the first time I visited my workbench since the end of August. Last night, I just forced myself to work on these trees. I felt that here is one more thing that I bought and if I don't do anything with them now, they will just sit in a box somewhere. Fatigue be damned, I dragged my ass to my bench and started working on them. It was good therapy. No miracle happened, but at least its a start.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More Stone Walls

I've been spending my last two weeks messing around with making more efficient stone walls. I made a mold and used various casting media, got varying results, none of which I was completely happy with. So, I went back to the slow, tedious method of building up the walls by repeated gluing layers of model railroad ballast. I was a little happier this time around than I was with the sheep pen. Here is another small farmstead. I am not quite done with it, but you get the general idea of things.

Here is looking down on it:

Here is a more street level view:

This time, I used a super glue gel, rather than the liquid type. I got much better control even if it dries slower. One thing learned for next time is to put in the gates first before laying down the walls. What I also plan to do with this one is to get is a coat of diluted white glue. Some stone pieces are more tenuously glued than others.  That will help hold the whole thing together better. The main thing that still eludes me is how to make the top of the walls level. The super glue gel helps with this, but its still far from perfect.

This project has sort of burned me out on terrain making. I've got one more terrain piece I need to make (a truck stop), but I really just want to start gaming.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sheep Pen


I am trying to make some stone walls. They are proving to be very frustrating; it reminds me too much of making sandbags. This was made out of coarse model railroad ballast that I built up in layers. The walls did not come out even. That is OK for a sheep pen, but not if I want to make walls for a farm. Also, it is rather time consuming.

There are lots of tutorials out there for making stone walls for larger scales, but nothing I could really find for microscale.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Little Cold Wars Rules

Tim Gow has been working on this project for several years now, and I am happy to see the rules finally coming out. I have read them over and they look like a lot of fun. He and his co-author are of the philosophy that playability trumps hardcore simulation, and these rules reflect that. The mechanics are intentionally simple and easy to learn. They are also pretty well written. I quickly understood the mechanics of them.  I would say that the only downside are the scenarios. Not that they are anything wrong about them, per se, but they all come from the various playtesting games that he has posted on this blog and on his Yahoo! Groups site. If you have not been following this project, then it wouldn't be an issue....not that it's a big one for me.

I am already thinking about how to scale them down for microarmor, though I don't think I will be playing with my microarmor out in my backyard!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Mighty M103 Heavy Tank!

I finally got a day where the humidity seemed OK for spraying my GHQ M103 heavy tanks. I used Testor's Olive Drab, which was a little darker than what I wanted, so I highlighted them with Vallejo Olive Green. I tested out a black wash on one of the tanks, but it look too dark. For now I will leave them as is. Three I made into company command tanks.

The battalion
Three command tanks:
I designate my command AFVs by at least sticking on an antenna. I will also stick in a commander if I feel ambitious. I have tried different methods of antenna making with varying satisfaction. This time I used a method by the guy who makes GameCraft Miniatures. I think it has worked the best so far, BUT the brush hairs can bend very easily, and don't spring back. 

Commander 1: side view

Commander 1: turret turned

Commander 2

Commander 3
GHQ provided these tanks with a pintle-mounted 50 cal machine gun. This is great, but it made it difficult to sick in a tank commander. The commanders themselves are an example of scale creep. Yes, it even happens at the micro level. Commanders 1 and 3 are from GHQ's American WWII artillery and vehicle crew packs. They are much thinner than commander 2. Even so, I had to cut off and extend the machine gun on commander 1 to allow him to man the gun. Commander 2 is from their more recent 3rd World Regulars infantry pack. He was much beefier compared to the other two and it took more work to fit him in the commander's copula. I should have sniped off his binocular case to accommodate the gun.  As a result, the machine gun is stuck in that weird down position.